Yesterday (Thursday 13th August 2015) saw two statements issued regarding Nottingham Forest. One of them official from the club. The other one....not so much.
The official statement was regarding international clearance for Spanish defender Daniel Pinillos which - as I'm typing this - has still not been received. As supporters we probably need to take this at face value and accept that the club has done and is doing everything they can to hurry the Spanish FA along. Hopefully it will be resolved soon so we can see what the player is capable of.
The second statement was made via Twitter by owner/chairman Fawaz al Hasawi. I won't copy the text word-for-word, but the gist of it was:
- He feels that we, as fans, have been focussing too much on the negatives lately
- That, as loyal fans, we should support the team whether they win or lose
- That we're only at the beginning of a long journey and that we're working hard to achieve our goals
If we've been focussing on negatives, it's because there's been too many of them to focus on. We've (rightly) praised the positives of the signings we've made and the long-term contracts for Tyler Walker and Oliver Burke, but when issues like the botched capture of Ben Hamer arise, then of course we're going to discuss them. If Fawaz doesn't want us to focus on negatives then he needs to minimise the number of them.
Loyal fans. Hmm. Fawaz is treading on very dangerous ground with comments like that. By and large the fanbase has stuck with Fawaz; possibly more than should be reasonably expected considering the number of high-profile gaffes the club has made since his tenure began. However, the one sure-fire way he's going to turn fans against him is by lecturing them on how they should support the club.
No, we haven't pumped £millions into the club like he has. However, we do inject money in the form of tickets and merchandise. We're not all multi-millionaires like he is and the cash and time investments that fans give to the club are massive in some cases. We're bound to be disappointed when the team loses, but we care about the club as a whole and, at the moment, there are clearly huge issues around the wider club.
As for the final point; we all have to admit that, sometimes, on journeys, we get lost and need to ask for help from people who know the way. This is, in my opinion, the one biggest failing of Fawaz's ownership: the total and utter lack of experienced people at the heart of the club.
Who do we have? Much of the day-to-day running of the club seems to fall between two men: Hassan Saef and Lalou Tifrit. One of these isn't mentioned anywhere on the club website's Who's Who page and the other one is Head of Finance and Owner's Representative. What does that mean exactly? Whilst he might be experienced in finance and business, has he ever worked in football? Football is like no other business and the same rules don't apply. How can the club run effectively with such inexperienced people at the helm?
Fawaz says that we're working hard to achieve our goals, but where is the evidence of that? Our ultimate goal has to be promotion back to the Premier League. Yet, at this moment in time, that seems further away than ever. Credit where it's due, the Academy seems in good health and we're tying down good, young players to long-term contracts. But I can't see too much else to enthuse about.
The playing squad still has holes in (though one can't blame the club for the rotten injury luck we continually seem to have) and, under the embargo, those holes are not easy to fill. Commercially we seem as inept as we always were during the Nigel Doughty days, if not worse. At least we always had external shirt sponsorship then. There are massive opportunities for a club with a renowned - yes, even now - name such as ours to generate revenue, but there seems to be nobody at the club with the nous and wherewithal to grasp them. Simple things like paying bills on time aren't being done. That is just plain not acceptable.
Obviously not every Forest fan is on Twitter. There are doubtless thousands of fans who support the club oblivious to the turmoil that those of us who follow it closely online see regularly. But people with an online presence will talk to their friends without. If Fawaz continues to run the club unprofessionally and agitate the fans by questioning their loyalty then....well. It doesn't take a genius to see where things could end up.
I'm not calling this post an open letter. We've had enough of those over the last few months. But, in a way it kind of is one.
Fawaz - if you or any of your close friends are reading this then please, please stop making social media statements like last night's. Employ people who know what they're doing and let them do it. Your passion, enthusiasm and financial backing could make Nottingham Forest great again - but not while you try to run it with your heart and not your head.